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Leclerc: Austria decision was fair but inconsistent

SILVERSTONE, U.K. — Charles Leclerc is happy to accept the stewards’ decision in Austria that deprived him of his first Formula One victory two weeks ago as long as the FIA remain consistent in the way they apply the rules at future races.

Leclerc was leading the race with two laps to go when Max Verstappen passed him for the lead at Turn 3 and squeezed him wide on the exit of the corner. The pair touched wheels and Leclerc was forced off the track, with the Ferrari driver asking “What the hell was that?” over team radio, but after a three-hour review of the incident the stewards decided to take no further action against Verstappen.

“I think with the incident, I don’t have any problems and it was very easy for me to move on,” Leclerc said. “The only thing is that I would like maybe a bit more consistency. I feel like there have been some other incidents in the past which have been less big, in a way, and that have been penalised.

“If we can race that way, I’m more than happy to race that way. I think it’s good for Formula One. I think it’s what us drivers want. We just need to know what we can expect from the others, and on that, I think that’s why I would like probably more consistency on the penalties.

“I think to be completely honest, he had such a pace advantage with the tyres he was on that it was very difficult to keep him behind. But just the way the overtake has been done, I felt that looking at the past, at other penalties, afterwards, getting out of the car, I felt that maybe he should have been penalised. But at the end I’m very happy with this decision if they are consistent like this, I’m very happy to race like this too.”

Leclerc said the outcome of the decision would make him change the way he acts in wheel-to-wheel racing.

“As drivers, we always try to be as close as the rules limit us to be. So I will definitely change a little bit and adjust a little bit my aggressivity.”

After the Austrian Grand Prix a video emerged on social media of the aftermath of a karting crash between Leclerc and Verstappen in 2012 in which Leclerc was the driver who came out on top. The Ferrari driver said his relationship with Verstappen had progressed a lot since their karting days.

“Yeah, it is quite funny,” he said. “I have seen it everywhere on social media. I think it was completely the other way around where I was saying it was an incident and he was saying that I pushed him off track. Now eight or seven years later, it is the same in Formula One and both of us driving for two top teams, so it is great to see that. So it reminds me the road we have done together in this time and dreaming one day of being in Formula One and now we are fighting each other in Formula One.

“Back in karting we were not the best friends, but it is normal every time something happened that straightaway he would become my enemy and the same for him. We were quite young, it was back in 2012 or 2013.

“We are still pretty young now but we have matured quite a lot and now things have changed and we have managed to understand more the difference between us as people and us as drivers. It’s better.”

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